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Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill that ends California’s cash bail system

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill that ends California’s cash bail system

The bail industry and crime victims groups have already launched voter referendum drive against new “risk assessment” system.

Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a sweeping reform bill that makes California the first state in the nation to abolish bail for suspects awaiting trial.

An overhaul of the state’s bail system has been in the works for years, and became an inevitability earlier this year when a California appellate court declared the state’s cash bail system unconstitutional. The new law goes into effect in October 2019.

“Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly,” Brown said in a statement, moments after signing the California Money Bail Reform Act.

The governor has waited nearly four decades to revamp the state’s cash bail system. In his 1979 State of the State Address, Brown argued the existing process was biased, favoring the wealthy who can afford to pay for their freedom, and penalizing the poor, who often are forced to remain in custody.

Under the previous bail system, a person could pay a fixed amount of bail money, the amount of which was set by a judge who calculated in factors such as the seriousness of the crime and previous criminal history. After the appropriate bail was paid, the suspect was released from custody awaiting trial. With the new law, judges can make the determination with what the bill refers to as “pretrial assessment services” which will do a “risk assessment.”

These new pretrial assessment services will release people arrested or detained for nonviolent misdemeanors within 12 hours of booking. Felonies will be evaluated by these new guidelines into “low,” “medium” or “high risk” categories.

With some exceptions to be determined locally and sometimes even case by case, “low risk” individuals will be released, “medium risk” individuals could be released depending on the decision of the local assessment agency and “high risk” individuals will remain in custody as determined by a judge. Detained individuals will still have a chance for a hearing to argue for their release.

Interestingly, several organizations including Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department are opposing the changes.

Human Rights Watch Advocacy Director Jasmine Tyler, an organization which has advocated for years for changes to the bail system, wrote an Aug. 23 letter to Governor Jerry Brown opposing the new law.

“The new SB 10 is simply not bail reform; it replaces one harmful system with another,” Tyler wrote. “In fact, it will make many of the problems we revealed in our report even worse.”

The letter criticizes the way the profile based risk assessments may be developed and challenges the objectivity of the assessors. Tyler says the new law will “massively” increase preventative detention instead of lowering pretrial incarceration rates.

“The bill then sets up a system that allows judges nearly unlimited discretion to order people accused of crimes, but not convicted and presumptively innocent, to be held in jail with no recourse until their case is resolved,” Tyler wrote.

How is it likely to work out? About as well as other laws coming from Sacramento nowadays, if the example of a similar bail system used in Washington D.C. is any guide.

But approximately 11 percent of defendants in Washington, D.C., are rearrested for separate violations before trial. Approximately two percent are rearrested for violent crimes, according to D.C. Department of Corrections data.

Examples of that two percent of cases include a man arrested for shooting someone to death in the summer of 2016 between his arrest for another crime and the subsequent trial. Quincy Green avoided being tracked by a court-ordered monitoring device by having it attached to his prosthetic leg and removing the leg.

The ink on this law had barely dried when the bail industry joined other opposing parties to launch another state referendum campaign.

A coalition of bail industry associations, crime victims groups and other opponents have launched a voter referendum drive in an attempt to block the implementation of the new law. They have roughly three months to collect and submit an estimated 366,000 signatures to qualify the measure.

If they are successful, the law would be put on hold and weighed on the November 2020 ballot.

I would like to remind my fellow Californians that voting in different politicians would be much easier than launching expensive, time-consuming referendums! As it is, there will likely be plenty of propositions on future ballots attempting to undo Brown’s legacy.


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Instead of the state carrying the burden, require that bond be replaced by personal guarantee from one of these groups. If the person runs, the support group is held liable both financially for any outcome and directors facing similar imprisonment to accused if found guilty in absentia. let’s see if they will support that .

Don’t commit crime and you don’t have to worry about not having the money for bail. Seems simple.

I wonder how a referendum for “no bail option” would fly as a means of reducing crime. Just make sure to note that “any and all opposing this measure are “pro-crime.”

    Tom Servo in reply to MajorWood. | August 30, 2018 at 11:55 am

    I think anyone who’s worked with the current system would agree that it doesn’t work very well, and has some gaping errors built into it – but I’m afraid that California has actually done what should have been impossible and come up with a system that’s worse. I predict chaos will ensue.

      alaskabob in reply to Tom Servo. | August 30, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      I agree…. there is never a consideration of unintended consequences when pushing legislation. It is extolled as near perfect and once passed …. then the walk back begins.

    Milhouse in reply to MajorWood. | August 30, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Reasonable bail is a constitutional right, so a referendum abolishing it (and requiring everyone awaiting trial to be held in custody) would automatically be void.

I would like to remind my fellow Californians that voting in different politicians would be much easier than launching expensive, time-consuming referendums! As it is, there will likely be plenty of propositions on future ballots attempting to undo Brown’s legacy.

But, but, but those republicans are just so icky, what would the ladies in the book club say if they ever found out I voted republican?

Is not bail an incentive to appear in court? What is the incentive now?

Many criminals are very convincing liars which will make these risk assessments difficult. I am not defending the bail system, but I do not see how this is better encourages showing up for a trail. After all, isn’t that the purpose of bail vs. jail till trial?

Maybe the solution is to arm the good people of CA to reduce crime whether before or after bail.

    ecreegan in reply to TX-rifraph. | August 30, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    There’s a very simple rubric which will work in 85% of the cases: have you failed to appear in court on any prior occasion? A more complicated series of questions along those lines (Have you failed to appear in court? If so, why, and did you make a later court date? Have you ever broken other conditions of release? etc.?) would work in 95% of the cases.

      jakee308 in reply to ecreegan. | August 31, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      Keep good records and you won’t even have to ask the question.

      Jump bail, missed court, multiple offender = pokey time

      clean record, no missess, few offenses = Get out of jail free.

Low risk…gangs and muslims..and communists….High Risk…Trump voters. Escape from California.

new pretrial assessment services

Sounds like the major effect of this is to remove a current and customary judiciary function (as performed by those guys who are supposed to exercise “judgement”) and replace it with a similar function performed by yet another bureaucracy (or, even better, a NGO).

And the opportunity is obvious—this new bureaucracy will, naturally, be packed with lefties and so will be essentially non-functional. Of course the judiciary is already packed with lefties, but this lets Moonbeam pack it with weirdos who are even more left. Converting the judiciary to leftism takes time, but a new bureaucracy is essentially instantaneous.

Reason number 302 California needs to slide off into the Pacific.

Did everyone see this?

“Quincy Green avoided being tracked by a court-ordered monitoring device by having it attached to his prosthetic leg and removing the leg.”

There are geniuses running the show. Attaching the tracker to a removable body part.

We let clowns run our justice system

Coincidentally, abolishing bail is one of Antifa’s policies. I remember it because I found it so odd.

Sorry for going O/T but what kind of car is he driving?

Limited view but it looks like at least a 70’s model and maybe older.

Of course, the Gov could be buying fleet vehicles from the same Commie types who gave us the Yugo and it might be a 2018!


What they’ve done is put a spotlight on the judges. Who will now let more free to keep from getting recalled over minority group objections.

Bail was a great leveler and it put someone’s property on the line giving them an incentive to make the bailee show up or else. Usually family who would know where they’d run also.

So now we’ll have more free on bail committing more crime.

They’ll be begging to go back to the current system in less than 6 months. But the damage will have been done by then to the bail industry. Who knows, maybe that’s the whole purpose of this?